Instant deals designed for mobile consumers on-the-go look like the next big extension in the deals space. Living Social told AllThings D that it is offering instant $1 “Walk In” deals for lunch in its headquarters city of Washington DC as a promotion for its mobile apps. Users who sign up for the feature will see all days within a half-mile of their GPS-enabled location. Users buy the deals right on their phones.
The entry by Living Social into the instant deals space follows earlier efforts by TipCity, which has partnered with The San Diego Union Tribune to provide instant deals; and New York-based GroupTabs.
TipCity has a paperless system –users simply say “TipCity” to counter people. It works with restaurants on an account basis. Another site, GroupTabs, is a mobile app that provides discounts after thresholds are reached for a promotion (i.e. 20 people buying a margarita within a two hour window). GroupTabs made a splash when it kicked off last August but has not been heard of since.
Some people (like me) don’t like games. Game mechanics-driven “check in” media like FourSquare, GoWalla, Loopt and BrightKite mostly leaves them cold.
But what if check-ins triggered group buying discounts? That’s the concept behind GroupTabs, a new service launching in New York City next week. The idea is that offers could be floated on smart phones with a one or two hour window, and users can check in at the location. When enough people arrived, the discount (“20% of Wine Bar Purchases”) would kick in. The location pays a fee for the promotion if they reach their threshold.
Led by former Citysearch sales exec Zane Friedman, GroupTabs began development in April. It has adopted Foursquare’s open API for check-ins, and plans to work with other check-in systems as well. One modification it has made is that it requires check-ins to be made at the location: Foursquare lets you do it all from your home or other locations.
“We give people a reason to try LBS (Location Based Services),” says mobile vet Josh Malin, who is part of the three person start-up team. “Immediacy determines what they’re doing. They are not in it for the badge.”
Malin says the site will begin with one deal a day, and maybe add several deals a day after it starts adding some volume. He anticipates that the deals will be much smaller than Groupon-like deals, since they’ll mostly be tailored to bars and restaurants. Average deals might have 20 or 30 buyers. When New York is fully developed, additional markets may be pursued, perhaps up or down the east coast, or San Francisco.
GroupTabs will obviously be limited to busy metro areas. Not many suburban areas will have 30 people ready to buy a drink down the street when they are gassing up or whatever.